Lawyers are involved in private adoptions in Canada as licensees, who help ensure that all the laws and regulations governing adoption are properly followed.

These individual licensees are found mainly in Ontario. (Adoptions are also handled by adoption agencies across the country.)

Direct Placements

The most traditional route to finding a child is through a public child welfare agency, or government adoption department, but direct placements are also possible, usually with the approval of the provincial authority.

Local adoptive parent support groups can be a good source of insight regarding the process of adopting children independent of an agency.

About the Licensee

  • The adoption licensee is responsible for making sure the best interests of the child are being met.
  • The licensee also ensures that the rights of both the birth parents and adoptive parents are protected.
  • The licensee is required to keep a neutral position throughout the entire process.

Selecting a Licensee

  • An ideal licensee will make the adoptive parents feel comfortable, bringing experience and ethics, caring and compassion to their emotional responsibility.
  • Provincial ministries in charge of adoption have information about licensees. It is advised to check with the bar association if your licensee is a lawyer to make sure the licensee has not been the subject of a complaint or disciplinary action.
  • The licensee should be accessible, and provide details about their experience in the field, and their perspectives on adoption.

Licensee Fees

  • Fees charged for adoption cover legal and counselling fees for both the adoptive and birth parents.
  • The licensee can charge an hourly or flat rate, may or may not require a retainer, and sometimes will offer a complimentary consultation. Given the complexity and cost associated with adoption, it’s helpful to get a proper estimate ahead of time.
  • Clients should discuss what happens if a prospective birth mother changes her mind, or the adoption falls through.

What Are the Licensee’s Duties?

  • Coordinating all documentation between the parties involved in the adoption.
  • Helping to ensure birth parents receive counselling and proper legal advice prior to giving consent to the adoption.
  • Taking custody and care of the child during the probationary period until the adoption has been legally finalized.
  • Receiving the ministry’s approval for the proposed placement.
  • Placing the child with the adoptive parents after the revocation of consent period has expired.